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Political Update with VIDEOS: Presidential candidates rejected by the GOP, and a new challenger in San Diego

SAN DIEGO – Elected officials nationwide are on a legislative break; Congress and the Senate until Sept. 19 and our own City Council through Sept. 12. But for a politician, campaigning never ends, much less takes a break.

Nationwide, despite meeting the necessary guidelines, Fred Karger, the first openly-gay man to seek the GOP nomination, was not permitted to take part in the Republican debate in Ames, Iowa, on Aug. 12.

According to a statement released by Fox News, he could not participate because they do not count results from online polls. Karger has filed complaints with Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch and two executives on the Federal Election Commission, but nothing has come of that yet.

Although Karger will not go as far as accusing Fox News of keeping him from the debate because of anti-gay discrimination, MSNBC’s Lawrence O'Donnell is not shy to claim just that:

Karger told San Diego Gay & Lesbian News that the blatant attempt to keep him on the sidelines did not deter him from taking part in many of the other Republican events that took place in Ames over the weekend.

"I was treated as an equal and with great respect at every turn in Iowa, with the exception of Fox News refusing to let me into the debate," he said. "I spoke at the State Fair, flipped pork chops at the Iowa Pork Producers tent (a Presidential candidate tradition), was well received at the State Fair Parade, and got a great reaction at the Straw Poll."

Karger was able to watch the debate live, and made several remarks about each candidate via his Twitter feed. He also pointed out that of the eight GOP contenders that took part in the debate, only former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman stood strong in his support for civil unions. Aside from that, not much else was discussed regarding LGBT rights, although proclaimed winner Michelle Bachman did state she was in favor of reinstating DADT.

Interestingly enough, Karger admits that his role in the boycott of Doug Manchester's Grand Hyatt Hotel three years ago inspired his political career, and he has no plans of slowing down. (Manchester sold the hotel earlier this year after reportedly losing millions of dollars due to the boycott.)

"I have been at this for 18 months and I am full of fight," Karger said. "Everyday I am inspired by all the emails, Facebook messages and the people I meet who are so excited and moved by what I am doing."

While Karger seems to be garnering more media attention at each turn (he was recently featured on the cover of the L.A. Times), one of his opponents, Ron Paul, can’t seem to get any attention. It is not surprising though, given the GOP’s history of shunning Paul, but Jon Stewart’s clip below highlights how mainstream media also chooses to sometimes blatantly ignore a candidate, despite his popularity:

In San Diego, former Assemblymember Lori Saldaña, a Democrat who had originally intended to run for state Sen. Christine Kehoe’s seat when term limits force her to step down next year, announced to supporters via Facebook this week that she would instead run against U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray, a Republican.

"It is official, I'm running for Congress in the new 52nd District,” Saldaña said. “I've watched the debt-ceiling debacle, attacks on Medicare, and credit rating downgrade. This has to stop.”

In an email to San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, Saldaña elaborated on her reasons.

"The public is disgusted with the behavior of Congress, and for good reason," she wrote. "Brian Bilbray and the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party have pursued a narrow agenda of seeking cuts in Medicare and other critical social services while protecting the tax breaks for the big special interests like the oil companies who are their key contributors.”

Several Democratic candidates, like Francine Busby, have failed to defeat Bilbray, due his advantage in Republican registration. However, the Redistricting Committee’s proposed congressional boundaries, if approved, will change that. In 2010, Bilbray defeated his opponents, due largely in part to his nine-point margin, but that margin will decrease to only three, with the new district lines.

Bilbray’s campaign consultant, Duane Dichiara recently told the Union Tribune, "Saldaña’s track record in Sacramento was voting time-and-again to choke the state economy with over-regulation, over-taxation and over-litigation. Now she wants to take her formula for killing jobs and apply it nationally from Congress. Hold on to your wallets."

In her statement to SDGLN, Saldaña had this to say about her record:

I am immensely proud of my record in Sacramento, where I helped create tens of thousands of "green" jobs through programs to subsidize the expansion of solar and alternative energy. Not only did I help protect the environment (and earn a perfect 100% rating from the Sierra Club), I helped support small businesses and made it possible to put people to work across the state and mitigate some of the ravages of the deep recession that the Bush Administration left as its legacy.

Unlike Brian Bilbray, who was willing to vote to allow the U.S. to default on its debts and thereby throw the U.S. economy into a double dip recession; I voted again and again to balance the state budget and to achieve that balance through a fair mixture of spending cuts, the elimination of tax loopholes, and corporate tax breaks.

Now is as good a time as any to get involved and get to know your candidates, or at the very least, get to know the issues important to the major parties. The two largest LGBT political groups, the Log Cabin Republicans of San Diego and the San Diego Democratic Club, will both have booths at the South Bay Pride event on Saturday, August 20.

To submit questions you would like to see the candidates answer, request coverage of a campaign event, or for any inquires regarding campaign coverage in the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, please email Staff Writer Esther Rubio-Sheffrey at esther@sdgln.com or call toll-free to (877) 727-5446 x711.

As a matter of full disclosure, SDGLN Publisher Johnathan Hale has a personal relationship with Carl DeMaio. Their relationship in no way impacts the editorial decisions made by Ken Williams, SDGLN Editor in Chief, and does not influence our political coverage. All candidates are allowed to submit two pieces per month for our Commentary page. Williams can be reached at (877) 727-5446, x713.